Metal Kids

This poem can be listened to.


I've been breaking barriers

since batting balls in Arkanoid,

but I'm not sure that anyone

is ready for my thoughts on droids.

Robotic boys and girls and toys and wheels

designed with shallow feels.

What is joy and what is fear

with circuits in between the ears?

To be clear it brings me cheer

when a bot lets someone walk again,

or talk with friends with blocks plugged in

that powers them to rock again.

I don't think the objective

is a bad one from the start,

to give a brain to metal

with a battery powered heart.

With the planet burning up,

we might need the hardness.

We'll want encrypted heads

to take tours of the darkness.

But the danger of that part

isn't the losing of the flesh,

it's the passing on of lessons

which we didn't learn the best.

My folks were pretty good,

but some folks are pretty bad.

Some a robot would be cursed

to call 'em mom and dad.

I've seen scars on arms and hearts,

even pretty tough ones,

built under rules so wild

no compiler would touch them.

Where right and wrong were

decorations for a sour mood,

shutting down and tuning out

was the only path to food.

It takes a lot to have a kid,

and a lot less to abuse them,

If folks can buy one off the shelf,

I think it might confuse them

into thinking "This is new,

this is cool, this one gets rebooted!

I can tune the attitudes

and be the one who chooses

if it salutes when I walk in,

or offers up a hug."

Control is a bad conditional

for demonstrating love.

And don't get me started

when it comes to dirty data.

The digits we feed in reflect

the faces who helped make it.

When the records focus in

on the people with the money,

the answers that come out

start to look a little funny.

So when I say I'm not ready

to have a metal little one,

it's not the sci-fi movies.

Blame the more upsetting ones.

The ones about the kids

that had to grow up against odds

stacked higher than the egos

of our modern cyber gods.

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